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2018 NFL Draft: Pre-CFB Season Position Breakdown

2018 NFL Draft: Pre-CFB Season Big Board

With College Football opening weekend right around the corner, let’s take a look at the top prospects at each position according to a panel of Sports Fan Entertainment’s NFL Draft scouts.

QUARTERBACK

Jon Harun Daniel
1. Sam Darnold – USC Josh Rosen – UCLA Lamar Jackson – Louisville
2. Josh Rosen – UCLA Sam Darnold – USC Sam Darnold – USC
3. Josh Allen – Wyoming Lamar Jackson – Louisville Jarrett Stidham – Auburn
4. Lamar Jackson – Louisville Deondre Francois – FSU Josh Rosen – UCLA
5. Luke Falk – Wash State Brett Rypien – Boise State Luke Falk – Wash State
6. Jarrett Stidham – Auburn Kyle Allen – Houston Deondre Francois – FSU
7. Deondre Francois – FSU Jarrett Stidham – Auburn Josh Allen – Wyoming
8. Mason Rudolph – OK State Tanner Mangum – BYU Mason Rudolph – OK State
9. Kyle Allen – Houston Luke Falk – Wash State
10. Nick Fitzgerald – Miss State Drew Lock – Missouri

 

Player to Watch: Brett Rypien – Boise State

Rypien is the nephew of Super Bowl XXVI MVP Mark Rypien. Brett became the team’s starting QB as a true freshman in the 2015 season, throwing for 3,350 yards and 20 touchdowns. Scouts won’t fall in love with his size (about 6-2, 200 lbs.); however, Rypien displays a powerful and arm and an ability to throw accurately and with touch. He likely won’t generate enough hype to go as early as the 1st round, playing in a non-Power 5 conference, but if Rypien can improve on his decision-making, it’s definitely possible.

RUNNING BACK

Jon Harun Daniel
1. Saquon Barkley – Penn State Saquon Barkley – Penn State/Derrius Guice – LSU Saquon Barkley – Penn State
2. Derrius Guice – LSU Saquon Barkley – Penn State/Derrius Guice – LSU Derrius Guice – LSU
3. Ronald Jones – USC Damien Harris – Alabama Bo Scarbrough – Alabama
4. Bo Scarbrough – Alabama Myles Gaskin – Washington Royce Freeman – Oregon
5. Royce Freeman – Oregon Nick Chubb – Georgia Ronald Jones – USC
6. Kalen Ballage – Arizona State Sony Michel – Georgia Nick Chubb – Georgia
7. Nick Chubb – Georgia Jordan Scarlett – Florida
8. Sony Michel – Georgia Kalen Ballage – Arizona State
9. Damien Harris – Alabama L.J. Scott – Michigan St.
10. Myles Gaskin – Washington Royce Freeman – Oregon

 

Player to Watch: Kalen Ballage – Arizona State

Kalen Ballage is not a household name at running back for the Sun Devils, but I absolutely love him. I want to put my mark on him before he blows up either this season or in the NFL. His stats do not indicate his true talent or potential impact at the next level. Ballage fits the mold of a new age running back with not only great skills as a runner, but also as a receiver. Add in his 6’3” 230 lbs frame and this guy can be a stud at the next level. Remember the name.

WIDE RECEIVER

Jon Harun Daniel
1. Calvin Ridley – Alabama Calvin Ridley – Alabama Christian Kirk – Texas A&M
2. Christian Kirk – Texas A&M Equanimeous St. Brown – Notre Dame Equanimeous St. Brown – Notre Dame
3. Deon Cain – Clemson Dante Pettis – Washington Calvin Ridley – Alabama
4. Equanimeous St. Brown – Notre Dame Antonio Callaway – Florida Auden Tate – FSU
5. Courtland Sutton – SMU Deon Cain – Clemson Deon Cain – Clemson
6. Antonio Callaway – Florida Jauan Jennings – Tennessee Deebo Samuel – South Carolina
7. Dante Pettis – Washington Auden Tate – FSU Dante Pettis – Washington
8. Auden Tate – FSU Courtland Sutton – SMU Courtland Sutton –  SMU
9. Jake Wieneke – South Dakota State Deontay Burnett – USC Antonio Callaway – Florida
10. Richie James – Mid Tenn State Richie James – Mid Tenn St

 

Player to Watch: Jake Wieneke – South Dakota State

Small-school stud Jake Wieneke has been an absolute monster for the Jackrabbits for three straight years. In addition to dominating the Missouri Valley Conference, Wieneke torched TCU last season for 196 yards and 2 touchdowns on 8 catches. He possesses good size at 6’4” and uses it well to beat coverage. He lacks great top speed, but his hands and route running are pretty good. He won’t be regarded as a top receiver prospect, but Wienke can certainly produce at the next level.

TIGHT END

Jon Harun Daniel
1. Troy Fumagalli – Wisconsin Mark Andrews – Oklahoma Cam Serigne – Wake Forest
2. Adam Breneman – UMASS Mike Gesicki – Penn State Troy Fumagalli – Wisconsin
3. Mike Gesicki – Penn State C.J. Conrad – Kentucky Mike Gesicki – Penn State
4. Mark Andrews – Oklahoma Troy Fumagalli – Wisconsin Mark Andrews – Oklahoma
5. Cam Seringe – Wake Forest Cam Serigne – Wake Forest

 

Player to Watch: Cam Seringe – Wake Forest

Serigne has shown great polish in the receiving game at Wake Forest. The rising senior has great routes and good hands. My biggest concern for Serigne is his blocking. The Wake Forest stud does not show great technique in the blocking game, whether inline, passing, or down the field.

OFFENSIVE LINE

Jon Harun Daniel
1. Connor Williams, OT – Texas Mitch Hyatt, OG/OT – Clemson Connor Williams OT – Texas
2. Mike McGlinchey, OT – Notre Dame Connor Williams, OT – Texas Mike McGlinchey OT – Notre Dame
3. Trey Adams, OT – Washington Martez Ivey, OG/OT – Florida Mason Cole C – Michigan
4. Quenton Nelson, OG – Notre Dame Mason Cole, C – Michigan Ross Pierschbacher OG – Alabama
5. Mitch Hyatt, OT – Clemson Mike McGlinchey, OT – Notre Dame Mitch Hyatt OT – Clemson
6. Martez Ivey, OG/OT – Florida Quenton Nelson, OG – Notre Dame Martez Ivey OT – Florida
7. Martinas Rankin, OT – Miss State Ross Pierschbacher, OG – Alabama
8. Frank Ragnow, OG/C – Arkansas Martinez Rankin, OT – Mississippi State
9. Orlando Brown, OT – Oklahoma Frank Ragnow, C/OG – Arkansas
10. Mason Cole, C – Michigan Cody O’Connell, OG – Wash State

 

Player to Watch: Connor Williams – Texas

Williams has a ton of hype to his name coming into this draft season. This hype seems justified based on the Longhorn’s stunning production at the college level. His production comes with traits that should translate well to the NFL. Williams shows good polish and leaves few questions about his technique. My only concern about the stud is his arm length. His somewhat short arms may make it difficult for him to get hands on NFL edge rushers before they get hands on him. Overall, he looks like a great prospect.

DEFENSIVE LINE

Jon Harun Daniel
1. Christian Wilkins, DT – Clemson Christian Wilkins – Clemson Christian Wilkins – Clemson
2. Da’Shawn Hand – Alabama Da’Ron Payne – Alabama Duke Ejiofor – Wake Forest
3. Da’Ron Payne – Alabama Vita Vea – Washington Dashawn Hand – Alabama
4. Sam Hubbard – Ohio State Derrick Nnadi – Florida State Vita Vea – Washington
5. Duke Ejiofor, DE – Wake Forest Maurice Hurst Jr. – Michigan Maurice Hurst Jr. – Michigan
6. Vita Vea – Washington Daylon Mack – Texas A&M
7. Dre’Mont Jones – Ohio State Dre’Mont Jones – Ohio State
8. Trenton Thompson – Georgia Andrew Brown – Virginia
9. Daylon Mack – Texas A&M Trenton Thompson – Georgia
10. Maurice Hurst Jr. – Michigan Duke Ejiofor – Wake Forest

 

Player to Watch: Duke Ejiofor – Wake Forest

After a promising sophomore season where he totaled 4.5 sacks, Ejiofor exploded as a junior with 10.5 sacks, 50 tackles, four passes broken up, four forced fumbles, and one interception. He goes under the radar because Wake Forest is not a powerhouse program, but he has the talent and production to be a first round pick next May if he can build upon last year’s campaign.

EDGE- RUSHER

Jon Harun Daniel
1. Arden Key – LSU Arden Key – LSU Harold Landry – Boston College
2. Harold Landry – Boston College Josh Sweat – Florida State Arden Key – LSU
3. Bradley Chubb – NC State Clelin Ferrell – Clemson Bradley Chubb – NC State
4. Dorance Armstrong Jr. – Kansas Rashaan Evans – Alabama Josh Sweat – Florida State
5. Josh Sweat – Florida State Harold Landry – Boston College Clelin Ferrell – Clemson
6. Marquis Haynes – Ole Miss Dorance Armstrong Jr. – Kansas Rashaan Evans – Alabama
7. Sam Hubbard – Ohio State Bradley Chubb – NC State
8. Marcell Frazier – Missouri Walter Brady – Mid Tenn State
9. Davin Bellamy – Georgia Tyquan Lewis – Ohio State
10. Ogbonnia Okoronkwo – Oklahoma Marcell Frazier – Missouri

 

Player to Watch: Walter Brady – Mid Tenn State

After an outstanding 2015 season as a freshman season at the University of Missouri (in which he posted 11.5 tackles for loss, 7 sacks, and a forced fumble), it looked like Brady had a serious chance to be taken in the 1st round of the 2017 NFL Draft. An incident that resulted in him getting dismissed and eventually transferring to MTSU changed that all very quickly, and it will be interesting to see how the very skilled edge rusher’s talents translate over to a smaller conference, moving from a larger conference that he dominated in. Look for Brady’s superb ability in run defense to contribute to him having a huge year and attract early-round draft talk.

 

LINEBACKER

Jon Harun Daniel
1. Malik Jefferson – Texas Shaun Dion Hamilton – Alabama Malik Jefferson – Texas
2. Cameron Smith – USC Jordan Jones – Kentucky Jerome Baker – Ohio State
3. Keishawn Bierria – Washington Kendall Joseph – Clemson Shaun Dion Hamilton – Alabama
4. Jerome Baker – Ohio State Tremaine Edmunds – Virginia Tech Kendall Joseph – Clemson
5. Matthew Thoams – Florida State Malik Jefferson – Texas Jordan Jones – Kentucky
6. Kendall Joseph – Clemson Skai Moore – South Carolina
7. Azeem Victor – Washington Jerome Baker – Ohio State
8. Shaun Dion Hamilton – Alabama Jason Cabinda – Penn State
9. Josey Jewell – Iowa Davin Bellamy – Georgia
10. Micah Kizer – Virginia Cameron Smith – USC

 

Player to Watch: Tremaine Edmunds – Virginia Tech

Versatility is an increasingly important trait in the NFL. Never have we seen running backs expected to pass protect or linebackers expected to drop into coverage at the level we see today. Tremaine Edmunds fits the mold of the modern hybrid linebacker. Measured at about 6’4” and 250 lbs., Edmunds is a force in the backfield with his combination of size and freakish athleticism that paved the way for him to rack up monstrous numbers (94 tackles, 16.5 for loss, 4.5 sacks). He also showcased great instincts and a nose for the ball carrier. Although Edmunds has flashed in pass coverage, I would like to see him used more often in that role in 2017. He could become a hot commodity come draft season with his skill-set and as a possible combine warrior. Edmunds has the potential to be a superstar.

 

CORNERBACK

Jon Harun Daniel
1. Tarvarus McFadden – FSU Tarvarus McFadden – FSU Tarvarus McFadden – FSU
2. Jaire Alexander – Louisville Tony Brown – Alabama Jaire Alexander – Louisville
3. Anthony Averett – Alabama Jaire Alexander – Louisville Kevin Toliver II – LSU
4. Denzel Ward – Ohio State Adonis Alexander – Virginia Tech Adonis Alexander – Virginia Tech
5. Carlton Davis – Auburn Iman Marshall – USC Tony Brown – Alabama
6. Iman Marshall – USC Kevin Toliver II – LSU
7. Kevin Toliver II – LSU Mark Fields – Clemson
8. Damon Arnette – Ohio State Carlton Davis – Auburn
9. Tony Brown – Alabama Donovan Wilson – Texas A&M
10. Adonis Alexander – Virginia Tech Ryan Carter – Clemson

 

Player to Watch: Iman Marshall – USC

Iman Marshall’s teammate Adoree Jackson was the number 17 overall pick this year by the Tennessee Titans, but I think the Trojans’ best corner was Marshall. He has been a star ever since his freshman year when he recorded 67 tackles with eight passes broken up and three interceptions. Marshall was again impressive as a sophomore with eight breakups, three interceptions, and 51 tackles. His 6’1’’, 200 lbs frame will allow him to give receivers trouble in jump ball scenarios. He has had experience playing a variety of coverages at USC and has excelled. Marshall will fly up draft boards this year and looks like a future shutdown corner at the next level.

Derwin James is an athletic playmaker

SAFETY

Jon Harun Daniel
1. Derwin James – FSU Minkah Fitzpatrick – Alabama Derwin James – FSU
2. Minkah Fitzpatrick – Alabama Derwin James – FSU Minkah Fitzpatrick – Alabama
3. Ronnie Harrison – Alabama Ronnie Harrison – Alabama Ronnie Harrison – Alabama
4. Marcus Allen – Penn State Terrell Edmunds – Virginia Tech Armani Watts – Texas A&M
5. Armani Watts – Texas A&M Adarius Pickett – UCLA Jordan Whitehead – Pitt
6. Jordan Whitehead – Pitt Van Smith – Clemson
7. Quin Blanding – Virginia Marcus Allen – Penn State
8. Godwin Igwebuike – Northwestern Quin Blanding – Virginia
9. Damon Webb – Ohio State Armani Watts – Texas A&M
10. Van Smith – Clemson Jordan Whitehead – Pitt

 

Player to Watch: Derwin James – FSU

Derwin James enters the draft season with a crazy amount of hype as part of an uber-talented FSU secondary. This hype seems completely justified to me. We don’t have much film so far on James after an early injury ended his sophomore season, but from his play as a freshman and a sophomore, the 6’3” safety looks like an all around playmaker. James shows insane athleticism with excellent size for the position. The Florida State star looks to be a promising safety prospect with nearly limitless potential. 

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